Quiet Safe Place Tool
When we use our imagination to conjure the experience of being in a place that makes us feel calm and safe, we can steer our attention away from uncomfortable feelings. I've heard it said that feelings are like waves in the ocean. You can't stop them from coming, but you can choose which ones to ride. BMSA students are guided through an imagery exercise to create their own Quiet Safe Place. With practice, they are able to return to this image if they are experiencing a BIG feeling. Mrs. Wright explains it as though we are turning down the volume on the BIG feeling. The symbol for the tool is a set of headphones. Just like headphones limit the stimuli coming into us, the Quiet Safe Place tool allows a sense of separateness from one's surroundings. It's like a mini vacation in our minds.
The hand gesture for the Quiet Safe Place Tool is cupped hands over each ear. It's often used with one's eyes closed, but that's not necessary. At BMSA, we know that if we see someone covering their ears, eyes closed, they need space from their surroundings and we allow time for them to work through their big feeling.
Using the Quiet Safe Place at Home
Here are some suggestions for encouraging use of the Quiet Safe Place Tool at home:
- Take a moment to imagine your Quiet Safe Place. Use this video if you'd like to be guided through this exercise.
- Talk to your child about your and his/her Quiet Safe Place.
- Draw together your Quiet Safe Places, including details for many of the 5 senses.
- Practice using this tool when calm. This will help create pathways in the brain so the tool will be more accessible when in a state of distress.
- When you notice your child feeling overwhelmed with emotion, invite them to use this tool. You may say, "I can tell you're feeling _______. perhaps you'd like to use your Quiet Safe Place." If you know your child responds better to nonverbal communication when they are upset, you may make eye contact on their level, smile, and show the hand gesture (covering ears).
- Remember to recognize your own feelings. When our children have elevated feelings, it can cause anxiety or frustration in us. Find your favorite tools to help you with your big feelings, then engage in helping your child with theirs. (Have patience with yourself on this one. It's not easy, but it WILL come with practice.)